Congratulations on your new baby!! I'm so excited you chose us to help you with your baby's hair. My hope is to provide a holistic approach. That means sharing how we protected our little one's head so that her delicate hair follicles remained healthy, as well as which products we used and which products we avoided.
1. Always Care For Their Crown
Even if your little one has no hair, a little hair, or a head full of curls, it’s essential to pay attention to their crown. We refer to the baby's head as their crown as a reminder that we're dealing with something truly magical. The head is the closest to the sun and the divine, so we must be super gentle and loving when dealing with it.
So if you're moisturizing their scalp or massaging their hair follicles, study their crown, get to know their crown, and tenderly care for it.
2. Be Mindful Of Their Soft Spots
Babies allegedly have multiple soft spots...
one close to their forehead,
one closer to the nape of their neck,
some near the temples, and
some behind their ears
Soft spots (also known as fontanelles) are open spaces on the baby's skull where bone hasn't fully formed. These spaces allowed our little one's head to change shape so that they could safely maneuver through the love tunnel. Now that our little ones are Earthside, the spots will slowly close over the next few months. If you gently run your hands over your little one's scalp, you can feel slight indents (these are the soft spots). You'll want to be extra delicate with these areas until they have fully closed (especially during hair time). You can do this by using your hands, a soft baby brush and super soft baby wash cloths when washing. Our daughter's biggest soft spot (the one near the front of her head) closed around one year old. Other areas may be smaller and tend to close as early as 1-2 months.
In addition to hair time, my favorite way of protecting our children's soft spots was wearing them. Wraps are an easy way to keep your little one's head covered and protected (especially when going out). Naturally Nella has a detailed tutorial showing you how to carry your baby using a cloth (also known as baby wearing).
She uses a moby wrap, but you can also make your own or shop around. Whichever brand or fabric you choose, make sure the wrap is machine washable and holds more than 30 pounds. That way you can wear your baby well into their toddler years (if you want). This brand is a current best seller, and is made of 95% cotton, 5% spandex. And our current favorite is the cuddle bug.
3. Care For Their Cradle Cap (If They Have It)
Cradle cap is yellowish flakes that can appear on your baby's face and scalp. Please know that not all babies have it. If your little one doesn't have it, feel free to skip to the next section. But if your little one does, you're probably wondering what it is.
Cradle cap is excess skin that looks flaky and dry. It doesn't seem to bother the baby, but may be concerning to parents. Some moms choose to remove it, but please know that you do not have to.
Kizzy Aurum does an excellent job explaining safe and not so safe ways of caring for it. Meaning gentle ways of removing the flakes so that you don't accidentally damage the hair follicles or hurt your baby.
Upon first glance, you do not see Kizzy's son's cradle cap, but that's because he has a head full of curls. When Kizzy parts her son's hair, you'll notice the flakes. If your little one has less hair or thinner hair, the flakes may be more noticeable. Start at 3:00 to see how she treats it.
In short Kizzy suggests:
making sure your baby is comfortable (she used a nursing pillow)
soaking a cotton ball in the warm water and softly dripping and rubbing it onto baby's head (using warm water helps loosen the flakes. You can also skip the cotton balls, and simply do this process after your baby's warm bath)
massage organic coconut oil into the scalp (Kizzy uses Grace, which is a Caribbean brand that's been around for decades).
only remove loose flakes that are ready to be removed (you'll know you prematurely removed flakes because the skin underneath may be red and raw. If you see this, take a break and wait until the flakes are ready to fall off).
gently part the hair with your fingers and lightly brush the flakes with a baby brush (our reader's love this set, because the wooden brush is made with goat hair and comes with a cradle cap brush. If your little one has shorter hair, a double-sided baby comb may be a gentler option. This one offers two different spacings between the comb's teeth and rounded tines).
4. Less Is Best
Babies are really new to this world and haven’t been exposed to the toxins, fragrances, or other pollutants that we may expose our bodies to on a regular basis. I believe it’s best to keep it that way for as long as possible. So I leave our daughter's hair naturally the way it is. No heavy products.
5. Use Family-Friendly Products
Even as an adult I use gentle fragrance-free products.
My older daughter and I tried so many natural products at the beginning of our journey and suffered some serious allergic reactions. Just because products are natural, doesn’t mean your system won’t view them as intruders. After maintaining four heads for some time now, I’ve learned to keep it simple.
Therefore, I stick to what works for us and largely stay away from trying those beautifully convincing products marketed specifically for babies.
One reason you may want to stay away from branded baby oils is because they are often oil blends. This means that they are not just one oil, but a mixture of multiple oils. For example, Burt's Bees baby oil has apricot oil, grape seed oil and lavender. While I love this brand, some of the customer's feedback was that their child had an allergic reaction. If there are multiple ingredients, it may be hard to determine which of the oils led to the reaction, which is why it's best to stick to one pure oil (especially during your baby's first year).
And then there are some baby oils, like Johnson and Johnson's (a well known brand). It only has two ingredients -- mineral oil and fragrance. But, mineral oil doesn't feel as nourishing as other oils derived from plants and nuts. Also, the term" fragrance" can mean so many things. So, we like to stick to the natural fragrances that oils already have (especially when the baby is so small).
Natural oils like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil all support natural hair growth, nourish the scalp, soften and condition the hair as well as many other added benefits for your baby’s developing crown. Since oils are so nutrient dense, you only need a little. One bottle should last your family a very long time.
Please note, it may be best to choose an oil that you are familiar with. That way you're not testing out a completely foreign product on your little one. And if you're concerned about nut allergies, grapeseed oil is another pure oil and great alternative.
6. Use Multi-Use Products
I’m also obsessed with multi-use products that the whole family can use. For example, the coconut oil I used for her scalp is the same oil I use on her body and the same oil I use to cook (all in separate bottles of course).
I didn’t start using product until she was close to 12 months. However our baby also had very very short hair (so you may need to use more depending on your baby’s hair texture, thickness, and length).
7. Soft Hair Equals Healthy Hair
I use her hair’s softness as an indicator of when to use product. When her hair started to feel dry and brittle, I knew I had to coat and style her curls in protective styles. So I used a pea-size amount (half a pump) of our natural conditioner.
Please know that soft hair on one head may feel completely different on another. For example, our girls have different textures (one wavier, one curlier and one kinkier) -- but they are all soft. So try to get super familiar with how your baby's hair naturally feels. Then focus on protecting it's softness by making sure it stays healthy.
8. Brush The Hair In The Direction It Grows
Since your baby's hair may be short, you may have a closer look at how their hair naturally lays. Meaning the direction it naturally grows out of their scalp. You'll want to honor that natural pattern. Meaning, if the top of their hair grows towards their face, you'll want to brush the hair towards their face. If the back of their hair grows towards their neck, you'll want to brush the hair towards their neck. This intentional directional brushing helps relax the scalp and promotes healthy hair growth.
9. Simple Styling
Even with product, I noticed her curls really needed a protective style. In my experience, curls are stronger together, which means they are better able to retain hydration. So I secured her strands with elastics and comb coiled the loose hair.
If you choose to style your child's hair, make sure it's super loose. The hair follicles are responsible for hair growth and you want to be super gentle with them, because pulling baby's hair too tight, may lead to hair growth issues later on.
If your child is anything like mine, and purposely moves around when you’re trying to do their hair — do it while they sleep. The game of negotiating with your child to do their hair may continue for many years.
And if your child really doesn't like getting their hair styled -- that's totally fine. You can just leave their hair alone and let it do its thing.
10. Avoid Lint Collectors
The closer our daughter got to one the more lint her hair collected. Too much oil or hair product can be the culprit and a reminder that less is best.
Even though we have all girls, I’ve strayed away from accessories. Yes, this means our children are often mistaken as boys, but I do not mind. I just prefer their heads to be as free as possible.
You may be thinking, that's the best part of having a girl -- all the cute accessories!! I totally agree there are some adorable products out there. If you're into infant hair accessories, just make sure they aren't too tight so that they do not harm your little one's soft spots. Our babies' heads grow pretty fast, so a head band that fit perfectly before can grow to be too tight in a few weeks. Keep a look out for indents of the headband on their scalp, this is a signal that your little one may be growing out of it.
Also, headbands that fit one 3-month old may be too small for another 3-month old. You may consider headbands for a one-day photoshoot. But hair clips like these are a better alternative for an everyday look, because they slide onto the hair instead of stretching around the entire head.
12. Ditch The Baby Gear
Please know I'm obsessed with minimalism and simple living, so if you're into the latest baby products you can totally ignore this point.
Having to maintain a bunch of gear while keeping up with all the demands of early motherhood takes away from what I wanted the first year to be about - sleeping, eating, and getting to know my new self and our baby.
In the beginning, I bathed her in our bathroom sink (no baby tub needed). As she grew she transitioned to the family tub and now she enjoys bathing in our kitchen sink. I also primarily used water, bar soap and olive oil for her hair.
The only “baby products” I used were baby wash cloths (because they are super soft), baby hooded towels (to keep her wet head warm), and a baby brush (totally optional). These were all gifts that you can get from a loved-one or add to your registry.
13. Take Advantage of Bath Time
Baby’s first year can be overwhelming, especially if you have other children and are simply trying to adjust to your life as a new mom. If you need a break, bath time isn’t just for hair time. It’s also a great go-to activity for their first year.
I let the water trickle and she would play with the water stream for minutes on end. She had fun and I got a break.
14. Expose Them To Different Hair Traditions
Whether it's styling their hair, preparing for wash day, honoring our ancestors or just celebrating hair's versatility and beauty -- these adorable children's book are a great addition to your little one's story time. Many are free at your local library. If you don't live in Boston, search your local library's website, or World Cat. If you absolutely love the books and want to add them to your home library, you can create a birthday wish list.
Until next time…
Love The Journey,